The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
In an opinion, adopted at May's plenary session, the EESC recommends that the European Commission and national governments, in consultation with all stakeholders inside the packaging industry, take the necessary steps throughout each product's life cycle to increase the industry's sustainability.
Most of the enormous amounts of packaging materials currently used for the safety, hygiene, transportation, conservation, presentation, and application of all kinds of goods – whether it is for industrial purposes, construction work, communication systems, or individual consumption – are made of carbonic or metallic fibres, which are limited resources.
''Future EU legislation should focus on the entire life cycle of products to promote the circular economy. Production, consumption and waste-treatment in the packaging industry are key in advancing towards a sustainable future'', said opinion rapporteur, Matteo Carlo Borsani.
The opinion includes a list of preferred raw materials: packaging made of natural fibres and other natural materials can effectively decouple growth from resource usage. Renewable materials are long-lasting, appealing, recyclable, and biodegradable.
Consumer perceptions and interactions with packaging are also evolving. It is critical that industry and consumers change their habits when it comes to packaging.
The EESC also calls for the implementation of a European social dialogue in the packaging industry, involving trade union federations and employers' federations. Considering the importance of packaging across all areas of the economy, the opinion also underlines the need for the European Commission to establish an annual forum on packaging and packaging waste. The forum would bring together stakeholders and representatives from European institutions to monitor the Directive's implementation and identify best practices in relation to sustainable packaging regulations. (ks/rl)